According to Capital & Main, a class action lawsuit was filed in 2017 by Raul Novoa, a man held at the Adelanto Detention Center operated by the GEO Group, the nation’s largest for-profit detention firm, from 2012 to 2015, claiming he had been forced to work for $1 a day at the facility.
New allegations have recently been introduced, claiming that, as part of company policy, GEO forces immigrants in custody to work for no compensation at all. A victory could have serious consequences for the company, and for the Trump administration’s immigration policy.
GEO claims that its policies fall within ICE regulations, which state detainees can only be obligated to make their beds and keep their personal spaces free of clutter. However, there is evidence a GEO officer threatened an asylum seeker currently detained with solitary confinement for refusing to clean other areas for no pay.
These claims are inline with those of Novoa, who was allegedly threatened with solitary confinement if he did not work or complained about his pay, which was needed to buy food, water, and hygienic supplies that GEO was contractually obligated to provide for free.
ICE depends on for-profit prison firms like GEO to operate migrant detainment camps, and this lawsuit, along with several others, threaten to cripple the detention system.